My day as a film extra

Dani Gallegos

It was Jan. 6, 2019, just a few days into shooting the feature film title The Man from Nowhere. It was the day that co-writer/directed Matt Green needed several extras to be a part of a significant scene of the film.

Two days prior I had volunteered to be an extra. Emmy Gaddy, the project’s sets unit producer, had still been searching for extras, and agreed.

The scene I appeared in was a party scene where everyone was asked to appear in New Year’s Eve party attire. I had decided to take my dress that I had worn to my sweet 16 with gold sequins  on the top and white tulle on the bottom and gold heels.

The day arrived. I woke up early to do my hair and makeup. While waiting for the other extras to get there I helped move some tables and blow up balloons, then I was off to get changed for the party.

The scene was shot in the Music Recital Hall on the campus of The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, Calif. After getting ready I met my fellow extras who would also be starring in the scene with me. We had been waiting in the nearby English department as the crew was getting set up. The lull gave us all some time to become acquainted.

Not long after we had found out that one of the actresses was unable to attend the shoot that day and so one of the other extras would be asked to step up and play this small speaking role on camera.

Finally we were escorted to the set and I stood with two other extras, Luke Hartung and Alleah McGrath, at a tall round table

Green explained to us while the actors were acting out the scene, our job was to pretend we were talking but only mouthing our words. Additionally, we could take small sips of our drinks. The idea was to look lively and festive – laughing and talking without making an actual sound.

At first, Alleah and Luke and I had no idea what to do. During the rehearsal we would talk and move but it felt awkward. However, as we continued to rehearse we got better at it began to feel less awkward and talking. Before long, conversing and reacting in silence became a game of charades with the three of us trying to figure out what the other was asying.

At one point, toward the end, we managed to discern that we were all hungry and could not wait for lunch.

Some things are universal, I guess. They need no words!